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Brighter Outlook: do more of this if you are stressed

By West Briton  |  Posted: April 24, 2014

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WE ALL know that stress is driven by our 'fight and flight' response.

Throughout our history, this was the 'alarm system' that kept us safe.

So, when our prehistoric ancestor, walking along the savannah, saw a bear, his body went into 'red alert'.

His heart rate increased, blood pressure went up, breathing quickened, and so on.

This was to prepare his body for the major physical exertion of running or fighting for his life.

And when the fighting and running was finished, our ancestor settled back into his cave, and his body returned to normal.

Nowadays, of course, there are no bears to challenge us.

However, the same emergency alarm system, (or the stress response), is triggered by things like feeling there is 'too much to do', the worry of a boss getting annoyed, or just 'too much change'. (These are psychological threats, not physical ones – but our alarm system doesn't make this distinction).

So, our bodies are prepared for fighting or running.

But we don't usually do either of these things.

Instead, we 'stay put' and our bodies get all revved up with nowhere to go.

We then go home and mull things over and this keeps the stress response running.

So, the one thing we need to do 'more of' is to take more frequent time periods for the body to rest and recover from the stress response.

This means either a) doing more physical movement, (exercise), and/or b) doing something 'de-stressing', like reading, listening to music, meditation, or just taking a break.

Stress isn't a problem in the short term.

But in the long term it causes a lot of damage.

We need these periods of rest and recovery to minimise the damage.

Ignore this at your peril.

■ For NHS-funded therapy for stress, anxiety or depression, phone 01208 871905 or contact help@outlooksw.co.uk

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